You say Ping’anye , I gift Ping’anguo

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Although Christmas was banned in China for a long time, the Chinese have started to adopt the holiday as their own. Christmas is not celebrated as it is in Western culture, but is instead seen as a commercial holiday with a strict non-religious connotation. The holiday is still young and is only celebrated in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. The holiday is generally treated as a day to be out with friends, spend a lot of money and give gifts. One of the most popular gifts being fruit!

In Mandarin, Christmas Eve translates to Ping’anye (平安夜, the evening of peace) which sounds very similar to apple, or pingguo (苹果). On Christmas Eve, an apple as a gift is no longer called pingguo, but ping’anguo (平安果, the fruit of peace). Fancy, cellophane-wrapped “Christmas apples” are a popular gift and are often decorated like the ones in the photos below.

Photos courtesy of Chinese Government Web Portal

Photos courtesy of Chinese Government Web Portal

Often when an apple is received, the best gift to give in return is an orange. In Mandarin, orange, or chéng (橙) sounds a lot like sincere (诚) and success (成) so the fruit is thought to bring wealth, joy and good luck with the added benefit of warding off evil spirits. An orange is a heartfelt gift of xin xiang shi cheng (心想事成, to have whatever you wish for) and although it is not an exclusive Chinese tradition, it holds significance within the holiday celebration and even plays a major role in the Chinese New Year!